Undergrad VS Law School: Finding a Good School

<p>Hey there everyone!</p>

<p>So I'm a rising sophomore, and although I haven't got into the complete application process yet, I thought it would be a good idea to look up and research possible colleges for next year. </p>

<p>I am interested in International Law as a career, and although I have found plenty of information about good law schools, I haven't found many about good PRE-LAW schools. Although I wouldn't be majoring in pre-law, it's important to me to find a school conducive to working towards law school - location with potential for future networking, plenty of resources, good study abroad programs and excellent humanities departments. </p>

<p>I have a small list of potential schools so far:</p>

<p>-Columbia University
-UVA - University of Virginia
-Yale University
-Duke University
-Georgetown University</p>

<p>My top choice so far is Columbia - it seems to fit my criteria.</p>

<p>So my question is: what are your recommendations for good undergrad schools based on my criteria, and what do you think of my list?</p>

<p>Law school does not require a particular undergraduate major (although English and political science seem to be popular majors among pre-law students).</p>

<p>If law school is your only goal, the best pre-law school and major would be whatever helps you get the highest LSAT score while getting the best GPA.</p>

<p>As ucba points out, there is no such thing as a pre-law major, though some schools have tried to sell it that way. As a result any school with a good reputation will fit the bill, including any number of LACs. English and Poli-Sci are big draws if only for the writing practice you get.</p>

<p>You say you want International Law, that's pretty sweeping, what part of the world? You might consider being a language major for the region your interested in (e.g., study Mandarin if you want China). Or maybe a business degree would prepare you for some of the commercial issues you'll be addressing.</p>

<p>Law school is ridiculously expensive. Unless your parents are made of money, you need to find the least expensive way to get yourself through your undergrad program. Law school admission is more dependent on your GPA and your LSAT score than it is on the name of the college/university on your diploma. You can safely choose the most affordable option from your current list - or an even more affordable one if UVA doesn't work out.</p>

<p>Sit your parents down, and talk with them about your college budget. You need to know how much money is available, and whether or not they can also help you pay for law school.</p>

<p>Your list above looks solid and includes some top notch schools that will prepare you well for whatever you choose to do in life, including going to law school. All of them seem to fit your criteria although I don't know the study abroad opportunities available at all of them, so you'll have to ask individuals who know each school. It's not really a matter of if a study abroad program is "good" as you simply attend a university in another country, so it depends on the quality of the school you attend. You should be more concerned with the ease of study abroad transfer credits, and which schools are particularly popular to study at. I know at Duke about 50% of students enrolled in Arts & Sciences study abroad, so it's extremely common.</p>

<p>I also agree with the above that the name of the school isn't all that important in law school admissions. Any school with a solid overall reputation will be looked at favorably by law school admissions officials. Any school that actually does have a pre-law program will NOT be looked at favorably. Having said that, you are not even a sophomore in high schools and interests change. Heck, most people change their major/career path/grad school plans while they're in undergrad. So, while law school admissions can play a role in your choice of a school, keep an open mind as you may realize there is another field that really piques your interest. At least with law school, it's very flexible in that you can go to basically any school and take any curriculum. </p>

<p>Thus, you should simply see where you think you'd be happiest and have the best experience while offering a wide array of opportunities. All the schools in your list are top notch academically. Obviously, if money is a factor for your family that also has to come into consideration as well. In state for UVa may be a great deal, but you may also get good financial aid from the other schools (depending on your financial circumstances).</p>

<p>Good luck!</p>

<p>As mentioned above - its not going to matter where you go among top schools if your goal is law school. "Pre-law" doesn't exist. My friend who graduated from Yale law school was an Art History major who'd never set foot in a law firm, if that helps explain how little law schools care about "law preparation".</p>

<p>However, if you want to focus on policy or international diplomacy as a career (with a law degree), then I think it makes sense to think about how you'll craft you're undergraduate experience. </p>

<p>As far as your list- I think you might want to throw Dartmouth into the mix. Dartmouth's focus on undergrads in unparallelled and I think given your interests you'll do very well in an environment that is focused on helping you craft an undergraduate experience. Dartmoth has lots of special grants for DC/ International work (2/3 of Dartmouth students live abroad at some time during college), the Rockefeller center is among the best in the world at placing undergrads into top places in politics for internships, and the study abroad is among the top 2-3 in the nation. Its alumni loyalty is incredibly strong, next to Princeton among top schools. I think you'll get a very holistic experience at Dartmouth; more so than at any other Ivy. </p>

<p>I'd also highly consider Harvard and Princeton, which similarly do exceptionally well at placing undergrads and have great resources available. While location can be helpful (particularly Georgetown's), having a great institutional focus on placing undergrads for summer internships and having the capability to craft an amazing specialized undergraduate educational experience (Dartmouth and Princeton) is also of significant value.</p>

<p>ucbalumnus: Yes, I do realize that. In fact, I think the so-called "pre-law" majors actually have the lowest LSAT average. Also, I don't like the idea of a pre-planned major; I'd rather prefer the freedom of picking my own course of study. I like idea of double-majoring and I think with the AP classes I am taking I can get fulfill requirements and get a semester or two of introductory classes out of the way to be able to graduate on time.
Majoring in International Relations, Communication & Rhetoric or Political Science sounds nice to me right now. </p>

<p>vinceh: Actually, somewhere down the line I would like a specialization in Int. Humanitarian Law, but I don't want to be confined to one field. Well, I can speak and understand Hindi, am fluent in Urdu. I also have been studying Arabic and am now at the senior undergrad level in fluency and study. This will also be my second year of studying German, and I can somewhat get by in conversation so far.
Yes, I have thought about minoring in economics or something, mayb Intl. Business.</p>

<p>happymomof1: Thanks for the advice! I have yet to talk seriously and in depth; I am just looking into possible choices at this point. UVA, being close to home as well as less expensive due to in-state tuition, looks a possible choice. I am also currently on the lookout for tuition.</p>

<p>Interestingly, the undergraduate majors (or groups) with the highest LSAT scores seem to be physics / math, philosophy / religion, and economics. Could that indicate that including some courses that involve quantitative (physics, math, economics) or logical (philosophy) thinking may be helpful on the LSAT?</p>

<p>^ While it may indeed be true that taking quantitative classes helps prepare for the LSAT, I would guess that the bigger factor is that the students who choose physics/math/etc. majors were strong in quantitative skills to begin with, or else they wouldn't have selected/succeeded in those majors.</p>

<p>All of the schools on your list have elite Law schools. Since Law schools usually give preference to alums of their own university, earning an undergraduate degree from a university with an elite Law school makes good sense. I would add Chicago, Cornell, Michigan, Northwestern and Penn to your list of schools.</p>

<p>Yale and Harvard Law Schools, ranked first and second respectively, show considerable preference for graduates of Yale and Harvard Colleges.</p>

<p>Only graduates of those two undergraduate institutions truly enjoy a significant advantage in admission to the most desirable law schools of the country.</p>

<p>Every school you've listed meets the criteria you've set out.</p>

<p>Just a heads up, though--no such thing as "pre-law." No such thing as "international law."</p>

<p>^ there is such a thing called "international law," it's just that its different than what many people think or understand. International law are the law, rules and customs that govern relations between nation states. It is practiced by a relatively small group of lawyers who, generally speaking, work for a government--such as lawyers in the Legal Advisors Office of the Department of State--or for international organizations such as the UN. There are probably more academics who study international law then actual practitioners. Because it is such a small field, and one in which many people have an interest, it is a difficult career goal. It is also an extremely frustrating area of practice because international lawyers are rarely decision-makers and foreign policy is rarely premised primarily on legal principals. Instead, international law is largely relegated to attempts to justify a policy after it is made.</p>

<p>Many people are really thinking about international business transactions when they talk about international law and this is a real area of practice, although it is probably much less exciting than most people realize. It is really just a commercial law practice that transcends national boundries. It is practiced by most large law firms and a few small boutiques. If this is the goal--the path is reasonably clear. Go to the best undergraduate institution you can, do very well there, get a high LSAT score, and either go to a top 14 law school and do well, or go to a lesser tier one law school and do extremely well. It's difficult but doable. </p>

<p>My advice is that it is rather pointless for a high school student to set a goal of being something as specific as an international lawyer. The odds are very high that your career goals will change a number of times in the next ten years. It better to focus on getting a good liberal arts education and see where that leads. Just my 2 cents.</p>

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Instead, international law is largely relegated to attempts to justify a policy after it is made.

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<p>I thought that job belonged to FOX-News and MSNBC ;)</p>

<p>Go to a top 25 school, earn a high GPA, and start studying for the LSAT.</p>